You’re either a radio person or you’re not. Inherited from my late father, I am a radio person. Even now I could tell you his own radio highlights; what he tuned into and when he tuned out. I could tell when he’d turn up the volume and I knew when he’d turn it down, change stations or worse still…though rare…turn the dam thing off.
The radio must have been there without us even knowing it was on. As kids we didn’t have a record player in the house until I was half way through primary school, so how else did I know all the songs I did? The radio was on in the car, in the kitchen and eventually it would be stolen upstairs to be played in my room.
When I went to secondary school we would often get a lift in my father’s car. The trick was to leave it on Radio One for as long as it didn’t annoy him knowing that, at any minute, his hand could flick the dial and spin us back into Radio 2 land or worse….the news. Privately I approved of Radio 2 because of the greatness that was Terry Wogan. I didn’t even think I liked him but realised I just didn’t want to turn him off. In those days (early 70s) there was little or no pop music we could really love on 2 but there were classics, big band, jazz tunes, standards and country hits to keep us thinking. If we managed a journey on Radio 1 of course that would also offer a box of delights. A breakfast show could include Elton John, Queen, Billy Connelly and Kenny Rogers or Stevie Wonder. Tell that to our colonial cousins across the pond and they writhe around in a jealous rage having had to choose the format of radio they liked before they even turned on the tranny.
I also got to thinking how dismal my own kids secondary school radio had been. Almost all their potential breakfast show listening had been dominated by Chris Moyles on Radio One, who famously, never played music until he was forced to. He was a skilled broadcaster…maybe even the best at what he did/does but I fear a generation lost out on the joy of the divergent playlists we were offered as teenagers.
Surprise is the secret weapon of radio. There is always joy in an unexpected old favourite at the time of day you weren’t expecting it. (Thank you Ken Bruce for Steely Dan this morning) But there is also something life affirming about a record that is so startlingly new it makes you want to turn the car around. For all the wonder of streaming algorithms nothing ever pops up from my phone as wonderfully as it does on the radio.
It’s a mantra my producer, Richard Murdoch, and I have tried to live by. Keep playing songs that will delight and surprise. I love it when we can get from Lefty Frizzell to Leon Bridges and end up with Laura Marling or Maren Morris ..and believe me we do.
We will have as catholic a playlist as ever this Tuesday evening.
If we haven’t already played you almost all of Tenille Townes album, then I can’t think why. Finally we are catching up with Tenille on this week’s show. I chatted to her from my studio in Glasgow to her own space in Nashville a couple of weeks ago. You can hear all about her story of teenage success through to her real country breakthrough in this, the most unlikely of years. Tenille is a talented singer songwriter who, I’m certain will be a huge star in the next few years. Listen in to a fascinating conversation on this week’s AC.
Please note that BBC Scotland have withdrawn all their individual Facebook Pages for music shows. So I will be posting the blog and adding your comments and thoughts on my own FB Musicians page…(which is a bit quiet anyway just now) https://www.facebook.com/rickyrossofficial
As ever we’re on air from five past eight on BBC Radio Scotland this Tuesday evening or any time you choose on BBC Sounds for the next 30 days. Join me if you can.